Hebrew for ‘anointed one’, who will be a saviour of the people, and used in OT of both kings and priests, especially of David and his successors, but also of Cyrus (Isa. 45:1). In the prophets a future king of eschatological hope is expected to reign with justice and in peace (Isa. 11:1–5), but the term ‘Messiah’ is not itself found in this sense in the prophets. The Dead Sea scrolls refer to the future coming of two anointed figures, one regal and one priestly, in the tradition of Melchizedek (Ps. 110:4; Heb. 7:1), who combined both functions in his person. In the Similitudes of Enoch (Enoch 37–71), from the middle of the 1st cent. CE, there is a Messiah who is also the heavenly Son of Man. So the fundamental reference is to God intervening in human history by sending his representative, and Christian readers discovered hints in the OT (e.g. Ps. 22:6–8) that this person would have to suffer.
In the NT the Hebrew ‘Messiah’ becomes the Greek ‘Christos’, but references in the synoptics to Jesus as Messiah are scarce (Matt. 27:17, 22); this rarity seems to reflect the known tradition of Jesus' reluctance to use such a title of himself, though the entry into Jerusalem (Mark 11:1–10) and the Cleansing of the Temple (Mark 11:15–19) suggest the notions of delivering his people, as prophesied by Mal. (3:1). When Jesus was called Christ by Peter, he was rebuked (Mark 8:29) and told to keep silent about it. Only at the trial [[➝ trial of Jesus]] did Jesus reply to the high priest's questions about Messiahship in the affirmative (Mark 14:61 f.) and in Matt. (26:64) this is modified to mean ‘you are right’—an assent to the question in a form in which Jesus minimizes the importance of the statement about the present: he was, to be sure, the Messiah (he means); but in the near future he would receive a position which would establish his Messianic dignity beyond doubt ‘at the right hand of God’—an utterance of blasphemy needing no further corroborative evidence in court. Similarly, the reply of Jesus to Pilate [[➝ Pilate, Pontius]] (Matt. 27:11) is an admission of Messiahship but without explanation or justification—except in John (18:36—‘my kingdom is not from this world’).
When the Church became predominantly gentile [[➝ Gentiles]], ‘Christ’ lost its original significance of Messiah, anointed one. Gentiles were not much interested in a Messiah who would restore the kingdom to Israel, so Christos became used as an adjective (perhaps confused with Chrestos, pronounced in the same way, meaning ‘good’) to describe Jesus. Then Christos became a proper name on its own account. Even Paul, Jew though he was, was beginning to use ‘Christ’ as a substitute for Jesus, or combined with it.

Dictionary of the Bible.

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  • MESSIAH — MESSIAH, an anglicization of the Latin Messias, which is borrowed from the Greek Μεσσιας, an adaptation of the Aramaic meshiḥa (Aram. מְשִׁיחָא), a translation of the Hebrew (ha melekh) ha mashi aḥ (Heb. הַמָּשִׁיח (ְהַמֶּלֶך), the Anointed… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Messiah —     Messiah     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Messiah     (Or Messias.)     The Greek form Messias is a transliteration of the Hebrew, Messiah, the anointed . The word appears only twice of the promised prince (Daniel 9:26; Psalm 2:2); yet, when a… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Messiah — (HWV 56, dt. Der Messias) ist ein Oratorium von Georg Friedrich Händel auf Bibeltexte in einer englischsprachigen Zusammenstellung von Charles Jennens für vier Soli (SATB), Chor und Orchester. Es interpretiert die christliche Glaubenslehre… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Messiah (EP) — Messiah EP by Godflesh Released 2003 Recorded 1994–1995 …   Wikipedia

  • messiah — ► NOUN 1) (the Messiah) the promised liberator of the Jewish nation prophesied in the Hebrew Bible. 2) (the Messiah) Jesus regarded by Christians as the Messiah of these prophecies. 3) a leader or saviour. ORIGIN Hebrew, anointed …   English terms dictionary

  • Messiah — Mes*si ah, n. [Heb. m[=a]sh[=i]akh anointed, fr. m[=a]shakh to anoint. Cf. {Messias}.] The expected king and deliverer of the Hebrews; the Savior; Christ. [1913 Webster] And told them the Messiah now was born. Milton. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Messiah — [mə sī′ə] n. [used by the Geneva translators (1560) for LL(Ec) Messias & ME Messie, both (ME via OFr < LL) < Gr(Ec) Messias < Aram měshīḥā, Heb māshīaḥ, lit., anointed] 1. Judaism the promised and expected deliverer of the Jews, who will …   English World dictionary

  • messiah — (n.) c.1300, Messias, from L.L. Messias, from Gk. Messias, from Aramaic meshiha and Hebrew mashiah the anointed (of the Lord), from mashah anoint. This is the word rendered in Septuagint as Gk. Khristos (see CHRIST (Cf. Christ)). In Old Testament …   Etymology dictionary

  • Messiah — This article is about the concept of a Messiah in religion, especially in the Hinduism, Christian, Islamic, and Jewish traditions. For other uses, see Messiah (disambiguation). The Last Judgment, by Jean Cousin the Younger (c. late 16th century)… …   Wikipedia

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  • Messiah — Messiahship, n. Messianic /mes ee an ik/, adj. Messianically, adv. /mi suy euh/, n. 1. the promised and expected deliverer of the Jewish people. 2. Jesus Christ, regarded by Christians as fulfilling this promise and expectation. John 4:25, 26. 3 …   Universalium

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